“Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not repay man according to his work?”
Today, I want to “Throw Out” a deep and heavy burden that is on my heart. . .
As I type this, I am about an hour removed of spending three intense days of meetings with fellow trustees and leadership of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Spartanburg, SC. Day one was spent with what has become a beloved group of men and women the Lord put together called the Presidential Search Team (PST) for the IMB. The last two days have been interspersed with “normal” trustee stuff and short PST meetings. It has been a long, but incredible three days of meetings.
I came to Spartanburg with a burden; but I leave with a God-enhanced passion.
A passion to ensure something happens that is currently not happening.
It’s not happening within the IMB as it should.
It’s not happening within the SBC as it should.
It’s not happening as it should at the church where I pastor.
And – full disclosure – it’s not happening in my personal life as it should.
The “something” I am referring to is getting the Gospel to the lost.
I just heard David Uth say: “There is only one thing worse than being lost. . . that’s being lost and having no one trying to find you.”
He’s right. We (ME!) must get the Gospel to the lost A-S-A-P!!!
No, I do not mean just a new emphasis on evangelism. I have seen, been a part of, and even led some of those programs. Everybody gets pumped for about two weeks. After that, about four people show up for the remaining block of time set up for the “ministry.” I’ve got the T-shirt and the certificate for that.
No, I don’t mean just an increase in our budget. That’s nice, and something I hope happens as a result. But it’s not what I am talking about – particularly – here.
What I mean is everything – and I mean everything – I do and the family I am called to lead does, and the church I am called to pastor does, and the small role I play on the IMB does, is focused and determined to getting the Gospel of the Lord Jesus to as many as possible as quickly and efficiently as possible.
In other words, getting the Gospel to the lost is not just for a segment of the church. Getting the Gospel to the lost is not just a “missions portion” of our thousands of ministries. Reaching those who don’t know Jesus is not just a section of our budget. Sharing Jesus with others is not something I do an hour a week if a good opportunity comes up.
What I mean is – getting the Gospel to those who don’t yet know Jesus is what DRIVES everything else. . . and I mean everything.
It drives what ministries we have in place. Some we keep. Some we chunk. Some we tweak.
It drives how we spend our money and resources. Some areas we keep funding. Some we stop. Some we tweak.
It drives where we do ministry. Some places we keep the same. Some spots we tweak to make efficient for taking the Gospel to those who don’t yet believe. Some we update so that we can invite unchurched and lost people to come without having to worry about them being intimidated by our sanctuary.
This burden – the burden seen in Proverbs 24:11-12 – MUST grip us.
Let me pull back the curtain of my heart just a little bit more and reveal four “embarrassing to confess on the internet” realities to give you a further understanding of what God is doing “under the hood”:
#1. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) goal of $175 million fell $20 million short for 2013. This – more than likely – means we will have to reduce our “on the field” personnel number – again.
#2. In 2013, FBC El Dorado led the Association (Union) in # of baptisms. However, FBC hasn’t seen the first convert since November 2013. Interpretation: It’s been SIX MONTHS SINCE OUR BAPTISTRY HAS BEEN FILLED!!!! SIX MONTHS.
#3. I haven’t personally led someone to faith in Christ – outside of the “Sunday morning pastor” role – in so long I can’t remember it. This isn’t to say I haven’t witnessed or shared. But it is to say I haven’t been near as intentional or burdened or bold or directed by the Spirit as I should have.
#4. I don’t want my three children to go through another season of their lives where they “do church” or “do life with their dad-who-is-a-pastor” or “attend worship” or “go to Sunday School” without seeing and watching and experiencing and being in awe of (in their own way) seeing God rescue people from a life of sin and guilt and hopelessness. I want my kids and your kids to graduate high school KNOWING that God is real because they have spent their lives – not ‘doing church’ – but watching God work in and around and through their lives. Don’t you? I wonder if so many are leaving the church after high school precisely because they haven’t really seen God at work in people . . . ever???
Read these pleas from the author of Proverbs again:
“Rescue those who are being taken away to death. . .”
“Hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. . .”
“If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the heart perceive it?”
“Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not repay man according to his work?”
God knows what you know about the lost in your city and the world.
God keeps watch over your soul and knows what you are doing about it.
You and I will have to give an account with our efforts.
I believe God is working around us if we will but join Him.
I believe He wants the lost around us to be rescued from death and the eternal slaughter.
I believe He wants to use us to be a means of bringing about that rescue.
Everything we do as a church. . . I mean everything. . . must be driven by this conviction.
Who’s with me?